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Micromanaging muscle cell fusion
Adult skeletal muscles are characterized by long, multinucleated cells called myofibers. Myofibers form when muscle precursor cells, or myoblasts, differentiate and fuse together during embryogenesis. The fusion process is not fully understood. Studying cell culture and mouse models, Bi et al. identified an 84–amino acid peptide that promotes myoblast fusion. This small peptide, called Myomixer, physically interacts with and stimulates the activity of a fusogenic membrane protein called Myomaker. Notably, the Myomaker-Myomixer pair can also promote the fusion of nonmuscle cells, such as fibroblasts.
Science, this issue p. 323